Maziv kicks off DFA’s R400m fibre expansion project

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 15 Aug 2023
Dark Fibre Africa is “investing heavily” in enhancing and upgrading its existing infrastructure environment.
Dark Fibre Africa is “investing heavily” in enhancing and upgrading its existing infrastructure environment.

One week after the Competition Commission threw a curveball in its bid to merge with Vodacom, Maziv today announced it has started rolling out its R400 million fibre infrastructure expansion project.

The project has been in trial phase since February and is now being rolled out at scale, says the firm.

In a statement today, Maziv, the parent company of fibre infrastructure providers Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and Vumatel, says it has invested significantly in upgrading their overall network footprint and infrastructure.

Last week, the competition watchdog recommended the merger between Maziv and Vodacom be prohibited, as it will likely lessen competition in the local fibre market.

Maziv and Vodacom are now hoping for a favourable outcome when they take the matter to the Competition Tribunal.

Some smaller internet service providers that spoke to ITWeb urged more scrutiny of the mega R10 billion deal, as they feel they may be squeezed out of the market by the consolidated operator.

Maziv was created last year by Remgro-controlled Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH) after it folded Vumatel and DFA into one giant fibre infrastructure company.

CIVH and Vodacom argue the transaction will be beneficial to the market, in that Vodacom fibre assets will become commercially available on an open access, transparent and non-discriminatory basis.

Increasing coverage

According to Maziv, Vumatel recently achieved milestones by passing over two million homes, while also extending the network to over 50 000km of fibre laid.

It adds that Vumatel increased its coverage by passing one million homes within the last three-and-a-half years in underserviced, lower income areas.

Combined with DFA’s 15 000km of fibre, it says Maziv’s fibre reach is extensive throughout South Africa.

Dewald Booysen, chief operations officer at Vumatel, says: “The accelerated expansion of our network into underserved areas embodies the Maziv vision and values. We believe high-quality broadband is critical to allow all South Africans to access opportunities on the global stage.

“We have rolled out coverage in areas like Soweto, Khayalitsha, Umlazi and many more. These are traditionally overlooked communities.

Dewald Booysen, chief operations officer of Vumatel.
Dewald Booysen, chief operations officer of Vumatel.

“Vuma’s approach is also community-oriented and enables us to work with the community to overcome challenges that have traditionally hampered efforts. Our commitment to the community is also driven by our vision to connect every school we pass with a free 1GB connection, and we have now connected over 700 schools.”

Booysen also mentions the recent launch of its partnership with Huawei, to test 50GB GPON services on the Vuma network.

“This is an exciting move to future-proof our network and prepare for next-generation services and demands.”

According to Maziv, DFA has embarked on a R400 million fibre network infrastructure expansion project to enhance its provision of connectivity hardware, to allow high-speed connectivity to more businesses and contribute to the country’s digital transformation efforts, enabling greater access to online services and improving economic growth.

The company points out that the infrastructure upgrade, which will be carried out in three phases over an estimated 18-month period, “will ensure faster delivery of network services to customers and improved network performance, while providing a scalable solution to meet increasing demand for connectivity services from customers”.

FTTB evolution

“Since DFA first launched its FTTB [fibre-to-the-business] connectivity services in 2015, our business customer base has grown and evolved considerably,” says Andreas Uys, chief technology officer of DFA.

“DFA is investing heavily in enhancing and upgrading its existing infrastructure environment, to ensure we are able to deliver high volumes of FTTB connectivity and provide customers with a consistently high standard of service delivery.”

DFA offers managed connectivity services, also known as the “data link layer”, which operates on a flat node-to-node basis using dedicated connections that provide a direct and secure network connection.

As part of the upgrade project, DFA will deploy 800 additional dry underground distribution cabinet (DUDC) units. According to the firm, these have been developed and manufactured in South Africa to DFA’s specifications.

It says the additional units will shorten the distance that data travels from the customer and over the network using dedicated cables, ensuring the shortest possible installation times.

The deployment of the new DUDC units is designed to accommodate future growth and demand on the network, with the ability to scale up fibre deployment to meet demand as it increases, it explains.

“The additional DUDC units and dedicated cables aggregate traffic closer to the customer, which at the end of the day means faster deployment and installation, and our customers can expect a significant improvement in their connectivity experience,” concludes Uys.